Amazon Chime Video Conferencing Platform Targets Skype And WebEx With Aggressive Pricing

It was not all that long ago when collaborating with co-workers meant sitting in a board room environment while someone scribbles on a dry erase board. Times have changed. Collaboration these days can mean working with people from all corners of the globe. To make things easier and ultimately more productive, Amazon today announced a new unified communications service called Amazon Chime.

This isn't new territory by any means, though Amazon argues that "most meetings solutions are disappointing." Amazon threw shade on the competition by calling existing solutions "clunky and hard to use," oftentimes with grainy video, frequent disconnects, and poor audio with constant background noise. Many existing solutions also require long PINs to enter when joining a call.

Amazon Chime

Amazon Chime supposedly solves all those problem and "takes frustration out of meetings." Rather than task collaborators with calling in an entering a PIN, Amazon Chime calls all participants when a meeting starts. Joining is as easy as clicking a button in the app. There's a visual roster of everyone in attendance, so there's no more guessing who joined or dropped. It also makes it easier to identify who's causing background noise, such as pounding away on a keyboard. Any attendee can put a halt to it by muting any noisy line.

"It’s pretty hard to find people who actually like the technology they use for meetings today. Most meeting applications or services are hard to use, deliver bad audio and video, require constant switching between multiple tools to do everything they want, and are way too expensive," said Gene Farrell, Vice President, Enterprise Applications, AWS. "Amazon Chime delivers frustration-free meetings, allowing users to be productive from anywhere. And with no ongoing maintenance or management fees, Amazon Chime is a great choice for companies that are looking for a solution to meetings that their employees will love to use."

Here are some of the benefits of Chime that Amazon points out:
  • Like being in the same room, even when miles apart: Amazon Chime uses noise-cancelling wideband audio to deliver high-quality audio and crisp, clear HD video to make it easier to have real conversations in a meeting. And with Amazon Chime, video works great across all user devices and many conference room video systems with no upgrades required.
  • On-time meetings that can be joined with a single-click: Dialing into meetings has never been easier. Instead of trying to type in those hard-to-remember multi-digit pins, Amazon Chime calls participants when it is time for the meeting to start and lets them join with a single-click. And, those who are running behind can tap a “running late” button to automatically notify everyone in the meeting.
  • The end of “who just joined?”: Once in the meeting, Amazon Chime provides a visual roster that allows users to see exactly who has joined, who is running late, and who can’t make it. It also allows everyone to see who is talking or where background noise is coming from – no more barking dogs or loud typists – and anyone on the call can easily mute that participant.
  • Work from anywhere: Amazon Chime was built for mobile use from day one. With easy-to-use apps for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows, Amazon Chime keeps meetings and chats synchronized across devices, and users can join meetings from any device and easily switch devices – even in the middle of a meeting.
  • Sharing made easy: Amazon Chime makes it easy to collaborate. When in a meeting, anyone can share their screen, instantly, without asking a host to “pass the ball,” or jump to a different application. For ongoing collaboration outside of meetings, Amazon Chime offers chat rooms that allow people to work together in a single place, securely storing chat history and files for ongoing reference.
A Basic version of Amazon Chime is available to use for free with support for up to two people in video calls, plus chat and chat room access. It also comes with an Outlook plugin.

The middle option is a Plus version that runs $2.50. It adds adds screen sharing, remote desktop control, active directory integration, user management and reports, and message history (up to 1GB per user).

Finally, a Pro version is available for $15 per month. It adds several other features, such as video meetings for up to 100 people and personal meeting URLs. There is a 30-day trial available for the Pro version.

All three tiers are available now.